- Today’s organizations heavily rely on IT systems to support their business operations. These systems record a vast amount of valuable data which can be analyzed to reveal useful information to support business operations. However, this data is often left unexploited, resulting in a stark contrast between the perceived manners in which business operations are conducted (for example, in the form of process models) and their reality. This situation can easily lead one to make ill-informed decisions that may have detrimental consequences. This data should thus be exploited in order to support business decisions and to improve business processes.
Process mining is a novel approach that facilitates such data exploitation. It consists of a set of analysis techniques and tools which can be used to understand the actual behavior and performance of business processes by studying events recorded in IT systems (also known as event logs).
The value proposition of process mining is thus to:
- Understand your processes as they are, not as you imagine them
- Back your hypotheses with evidence, not only with intuitions and beliefs
- Quantify the impact of redesign options.
The three main capabilities offered by process mining are process discovery, conformance and enhancement.
Discovery. Process mining allows the discovery of the actual way in which business processes are conducted at an organization. As such it can provide valuable insights into the differences between how processes are expected to be executed and the way they are actually executed.
Conformance. If an organization already has a collection of business process models or business rules, process mining can verify the extent to which the models and/or business rules conform to the executed processes.
Enhancement. Process mining also enables one to gain insights into other dimensions of business processes, for example, the relationships between resources (social network) and the performance of various business processes (e.g. bottleneck analysis). Such insights can be used to enrich the process models available within the organization.
Benefits of Process Mining
Beneficial insights obtained from process mining include:
- the uncovering of new opportunities with regards to the way processes are executed
- the identification of root causes explaining why certain process variants have better/worse performance than others
- the discovery of key indicators that can predict the behavior of process instances in the near future
- the confirmation/refutation of long-held beliefs about the behavior of one’s processes
- the identification of problem areas in existing business processes (e.g. process anomalies, bottlenecks).
How to Get Started?
The following are the typical stages of a process mining project:
- Plan and Justify Questions
Firstly, it is important for stakeholders to have a clear understanding of their business problems and challenges so that a set of questions to be addressed through process mining analysis can be formulated.
- Data Extraction
These questions then inform the types of data that need to be extracted from the IT systems. After careful consideration of the data requirements, appropriate datasets are extracted and prepared for the analysis.
- Process Mining Analysis
Once both the questions and the datasets are ready, various process mining analyses are carried out using a number of state-of-the-art data mining and process mining tools. This is typically a highly interactive process between process mining analysts and stakeholders as domain knowledge is crucial in achieving valuable and actionable process mining analysis results.
- Results Interpretation and Taking Actions
Results obtained from various process mining analyses are used for further discussions with various stakeholders and recommendations can then be made for process improvement based on the results.
Depending on the requirements from stakeholders, typical deliverables from a process mining analysis include:
- a collection of discovered process models
- a detailed performance analysis report (process throughput times, relative frequencies of activities, bottlenecks identification, etc)
- statistics related to process conformance analysis,
- a report on resource behavior analysis
- a set of animations replaying events captured in the logs.
There are two ways to engage with us in conducting a process mining case study: consultancy and collaborative research.
- We offer a fee-based consultancy engagement whereby we conduct a detailed process mining analysis of your business data to address a specific set of questions that you have about your business operations.
- As a collaborative research partner, we engage with you to address complex and challenging issues within your business processes that align with our research interests.
- Learn more about our recent experience with the application of process mining at Suncorp:
- Process Mining at Suncorp [flyer describing the case study]
- “Suncorp banks on data mining to slash claims” [article on Financial Review]
- Donna Stewart, Executive Manager, Suncorp Commercial Insurance, talks about Process Mining
- “Understanding Process Behaviours in a Large Insurance Company in Australia: A Case Study” [scientific article]
For more information about our consultancy services on process mining, please contact us.